Depreciation Station: 2008+ Dodge Challenger

Editor's note: this article appeared in 2018, some information and prices may be different today.

The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon’s 9-second quarter-miles made all the news when the car debuted last year. It was mean, it was fast, and it was as close as your local dealer–for a list price of about $84,995. The four available options, which included passenger seats, added another $4 to the tally.

The value-priced alternative? That same chassis has been in production since 2008, and you can now find some early cars in the very, very low teens–and by that we mean close to $10,000. Okay, yes, Challengers at that price will be powered by a V6 engine, but they will still have the legendary stance. If you have a few more bucks to spend, you can start looking at V8-powered cars.

This modern pony car actually made its debut with a V8 under the hood, as the sole offering for 2008 was the Hemi-powered Challenger SRT8: 425 horsepower from its 6.1-liter Hemi. That Hemi came backed by a five-speed automatic, yet performance wasn’t sluggish. Chrysler quoted a zero-to-60 time of “less than 5 seconds.” Despite that first-of-the-series status, today we’re seeing those 2008 SRT8 Challengers starting around $20,000.

Big news came for 2009. First, the SRT8 could now be ordered with a six-speed manual transmission; a limited-slip differential was also added to the package. Performance remained impressive, with Dodge quoting a zero-to-60 time of 4.9 seconds along with a 13.3-second E.T.

The other big announcement for 2009 was the arrival of the V8-powered Challenger R/T: 372 horsepower along with 410 lb.-ft. of torque from its 5.7-liter Hemi. The R/T could be ordered with either a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual. The R/T wasn’t as quick as the SRT8, but it still posted some impressive numbers, with zero to 60 taking less than 6 seconds.

More good news about the R/T: Dodge made a ton of them, so they’re not exactly collectible today. Today’s prices start in the mid-teens.

No matter the variant, the Challengers all deliver a similar experience. First, it’s a big car–figure about two tons of fun, with about 54 percent of that weight on the front axle. The doors are big, too. The foot-operated parking brake is a vestigial reminder that this is a sedan-based machine. The clutch throws always felt long. But crank up that Hemi, pop the clutch, and few will complain.

CARE & FEEDING

Not only has Erich Heuschele raced for years, he’s also the manager of SRT Motorsports Engineering and SRT Vehicle Dynamics at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Challengers may be big, heavy cars, but they can dance! So once you’ve already learned the fundamentals of performance driving from a good driving school or seat time with instructors, my advice would be to always be thinking and looking three steps ahead, and start to initiate maneuvers a bit earlier than might feel natural at first.

For SRT, the cars are ready to go for a track day as-is from the factory with stock brake pads, tires, suspension, and cooling systems. We validate every SRT model to handle 20-minute track sessions in 100-degree ambient temps with a pro driver to not have the brakes go away, driveline overheating, ESC system ready to play, etc. We also run 24 hours of track durability at Nelson Ledges with the car absolutely stock. We test them for brake fade at GingerMan where some of our high-profile and more expensive competitors lose brakes in just three laps.

Still, cars can be made faster with racing tires, racing brake pads, and engine mods. The 2015 SRT models have the six-pot Brembos with huge two-piece rotors, so you can’t fit smaller than a 20-inch rim. If you have a car with the four-pot Brembos, you can fit 18-inch rims over them and run a smaller-diameter tire for a weight and gearing improvement.

For a non-SRT, sticky tires are still the most bang for the buck. Cars without Brembo brakes will benefit from racing brake pads and high-temp fluid. Third upgrade would be more aggressive shocks than the stock Sachs twin-tubes.

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xflowgolf
xflowgolf SuperDork
1/31/20 9:32 a.m.

There's a late '00's Challenger parked along a fence in a field by a barn near my house.  It's been there now for months with snow now piling up on it.  It's interesting seeing the birth of a modern car becoming a future "ran when parked" hulk of a muscle car sinking into the earth foreseeing 20+ years into the future.  I'm sure they're "going to fix it up one day".  

Dusterbd13-michael
Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
1/31/20 9:41 a.m.
xflowgolf said:

There's a late '00's Challenger parked along a fence in a field by a barn near my house.  It's been there now for months with snow now piling up on it.  It's interesting seeing the birth of a modern car becoming a future "ran when parked" hulk of a muscle car sinking into the earth foreseeing 20+ years into the future.  I'm sure they're "going to fix it up one day".  

As a mopar guy, i resemble that remark.

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